The President, Ian Khama, has said that the crippling regional electricity shortage has left the regional economy virtually on its knees. Khama, who is the new SADC Chairman, was speaking at the official opening of the SADC head of states and governments which ended in Gaborone on Tuesday.
Increasing power demand, up by three percent annually since 2008, continues to outpace supply. The last round of energy shortfalls were in 2007 and 2008, during the global economic recession.
A number of SADC member states are faced with a myriad of challenges that have rendered them unable to generate sufficient power to satisfy demand. Many of the SADC countries, including Botswana, are faced with problems of limited project management and implementation, which have led to delays in completion of power generation projects.
“We should therefore redouble our efforts towards accelerating implementation of power generation and transmission projects as the regional economy are virtually on its knees owing to incessant power outages that continue to disrupt economic activities and adversely impact on the quality of lives of our people.”
The SADC region is said to be in need of 7709 megawatts to meet surging demand for electricity despite the fact that 75 percent of its inhabitants still find their energy source literally in the woods.
Firewood remains the energy source for cooking, heating and lighting for low income earners in the region who cannot afford modern energy sources.
Meanwhile Remmy Makumbe, Director of Infrastructure Services at the SADC Secretariat told journalists last week that most SADC countries are delaying to implement cost reflective tariffs, which has hindered development of a viable and well-functioning power industry.
At the same time, Makumbe also expressed concern at the delays by SADC member states in signing of power purchase agreements, which affects project financial closure. An example of such is Botswana’s Mmamabula Energy Project (MEP), which collapsed after South African power utility Eskom refused to sign a Power Purchase Agreement to guarantee export of power to South Africa.